National Novel Writing Month 2009 Post Mortem

I can’t believe it’s over.

I did finish NaNoWriMo. I’m a winner. I could post a JPEG proving it, but it doesn’t really, so I won’t.

I took a strange path to 50,000 words this year, cobbling together scenes from three different novels in two genres, an open-ended collaborative writing project, and a short story. In the past, I’ve done 50,000 consecutive words (or many, many more), and I’ve done them in a novel that I wrote start-to-finish during the month of November. Obviously that’s more impressive, but with everything else I had going on, I’m glad to have produced anything at all this year.

Anything at all. Hah! I wrote the end of two different novels, one of them a long-languishing partial that needed closure. I’ve still got a lot of rewriting work to do, but I now have the foundation on which to do it.

In the end, that’s what NaNoWriMo is about — struggling to accomplish more than you should be able to given all the other demands in your life, and getting a rough draft down on paper, so you have something to work with in the rewrites. I did both of those things, and in a big way.

To keep myself honest (and to make things easier), I wrote all those eclectic scenes in a single Google Doc, copying and pasting them out to their appropriate parents periodically. That workspace, though, was a document that ended up with the title Ghost Kings: Sleeping Targets: Golden Restraint Age Shelter (and a short story). Here’s how that came about:

  • I started off early doing my prewriting in October so I could work on a major rewrite of Royal Holiday in November, then scrapped that plan at some late hour.
  • I did another set of prewriting, this time on a major rewrite (and completion) of a Sleeping Kings sort-of-prequel called Golden Age. As part of the prewriting, I wrote a new first chapter (which doesn’t count toward my November word count).
  • I showed up at our kickoff meeting all prepared to finally get Golden Age done, found myself blocked, and instead I wrote the next scene in my newest Ghost Targets novel, Restraint.
  • From there, I just went ahead and finished Restraint (book 3 in that series).
  • Then I started on its sequel, Ghost Targets: Shelter.
  • Then I started a new, and totally unplanned collaborative writing project with Courtney on Google Wave by writing the opening scene of a novel about wizards in Oklahoma City. It starts with a magical battle in a 7-11. Awesome.
  • Then I wrote a totally unplanned short story set in the fantasy universe D– and I had been talking about years ago. It turned out surprisingly good (in my opinion, anyway).
  • Then I found myself totally blocked, unable to proceed past the middle of chapter 1 of Shelter, and instead started work on an unfinished scene in Golden Age.
  • Then I realized I’d written three consecutive chapters of Golden Age, without really realizing it, and I was about 6,000 words from the end of the book.
  • Then I finished the book. And NaNoWriMo. All with about an hour to spare.

I dunno. If you want to call that cheating, you’re welcome to. I could say that I finished National Strange Hash of Various Fictional Prose Writing Month, but I don’t have the time or energy for that sort of acronym. “Nooshvoofpwym,” I would pronounce it. “During nooshvoofpwyn,” I would say, “I wrote 50,000 words in gookstuhgraws (and a short story).”


In December, I’m going to do nothing. Hah! No, not really. In December I’m going to put the finishing touches on my new Tech Writing textbook, I’m going to lay the groundwork to launch a new commercial blog in January, and unless I’m prepared to face some real wrath from some surprisingly real fans, I’m going to do at least a quick touch-up on Restraint and share it out to some trusted reviewers.

I started 2009 with a pretty ambitious plan for my writing, and ended it in an entirely different place, but almost as impressive of one. I didn’t rewrite Royal Holiday and I didn’t start an entirely new sci-fi property premised on what turns out to be a total physical impossibility (in a bad way), but I did become a university professor and write a textbook. That’s pretty cool. I got my old creative writing text dusted off, too, and it’s ready to go.

So that’s my plan for 2010. Not as much ambition for the new, but lots of rewrites. I do want to finish Ghost Targets: Shelter before the end of September, so I can devote October to prewriting and November to Ghost Targets: Faith (my first season finale). Two novels in a year is actually pretty tame for me.

Then I want to get Expectation cleaned up (I never did redo the ending), and I want to get Restraint totally rewritten, and expanded by at least 9,000 words. Same for SK: Golden Age, and once that’s done I’ll need to write a new first chapter for SK: The Wolf, and my first NaNoWriMo project, SK: The Shepherd, still needs its first real rewrite, too.

That’s my order of priority. I’ve got more. King Jason’s War still needs the first section reworked, and a polish everywhere else, and I’ve been talking for years about splitting Taming Fire in two, and it could use some touch-up while I’m at it. More and more I find myself thinking back on The Poet Alexander, too, wondering if there’s some rough gem somewhere in the rambling, inarticulate beast that would be worth paring out. Who knows? I’d have to work miracles to ever get far enough down my list to find out, though.

Stay tuned. Maybe I actually will. I’ve spent three years now consistently accomplishing more than I ever thought I possibly could. And, in the end, that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about.

One Reply to “National Novel Writing Month 2009 Post Mortem”


    “During nooshvoofpwyn,” I would say, “I wrote 50,000 words in gookstuhgraws (and a short story).” <--- LOL Not only that, but I’ll say it here first: In 2010, I intend to acquire an agent. Bam.

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